Earlier this year a little-noticed documentary called “The Last Cruise” hit HBO and HBO Max.
The Hannah Olson-directed feature was short — only 40 minutes, according to RogerEbert.com’s Robert Daniels. The film, assembled with cell phone footage, documents life on board the cruise liner Diamond Princess on a voyage of Asian waters that began in Japan on Jan. 20, 2020 — “the same day when the World Health Organization first reported cases of COVID-19 appearing outside of Wuhan, China,” Daniels noted.
He added that Olson “teases out the claustrophobic fears felt by the passengers and crew, and the bleakness that sprouts when facts are being hidden. The Diamond Princess’ captain might say the situation is ‘under control,’ but when the white hazmat suits do appear at the port, and the stream of suite doors denote the infected by simply saying ‘COVID-19,’ the officials’ opaqueness can only elicit worry for those on-camera.”
After the ship spent 27 days in quarantine in Tokyo Bay, there were a total of 13 deaths and 712 confirmed cases on board, according to Worldometers. The case garnered international attention and became an early symbol of the deadliness of the novel coronavirus.
On March 9, 2020, though, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Americans that it was safe for most people to go on a cruise.
In light of the Diamond Princess experience, that should have been irresponsible enough, especially considering the overcautiousness the left now venerates St. Fauci of NIAID for. However, now that we have a trove of Fauci’s emails thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we know that four days earlier, Fauci recommended the cancelation of religious services when contacted by the head of the National Institute of Mental Health.
In a message sent to NIMH Director Joshua Gordon on March 5, Fauci wrote, “You should counsel the rabbi to cancel the services this [redacted]. Are the local/city/state health departments [redacted] doing any contract tracing?”
Gordon had written to Fauci the previous day in an email that’s been mostly redacted.
Here’s what we can see: “Should I counsel them to cancel service this Friday/Saturday? I’m hoping you can spare a bit of time for this advice, [redacted]… PSS great job today in the hearing,” Gordon wrote.
Fauci Recommended Canceling Religious ‘Services’ March 5, Okayed Campaign Rallies, Cruise Ships for Healthy 4 Days After pic.twitter.com/s8oGJjr24W
— Wendell Husebø (@WendellHusebo) June 2, 2021
Four days later, he would make his cruise ship remarks during a White House media briefing.
“If you are a healthy young person, there is no reason if you want to go on a cruise ship, go on a cruise ship,” Fauci said at a White House news conference, according to Forbes. He would go on to “recommend strongly” that those who have “an underlying condition, particularly an elderly person who has an underlying condition” not go.
Furthermore, as Wendell Husebø of Breitbart notes, this was the same media briefing where he dithered when asked about then-President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies.
“You know, I can’t comment on campaign rallies. It really depends. We are having as we all said — this is something in motion. This is an evolving thing. So I’m not sure what we’re going to be able to say at the time we’re going to have a campaign rally,” Fauci said.
“If you’re talking about a campaign rally tomorrow, in a place where there is no community spread, I think the judgment to have it might be a good judgment. [But] if you want to talk about large gatherings in a place you have community spread, I think that’s a judgment call, and if someone decides they want to cancel it, I wouldn’t publicly criticize them.”
I’d like to point out there’s no shortage of reasons in the Fauci emails that should, in a just and clear-eyed world, move us to collectively raze the pedestal we’ve put Dr. Anthony Fauci on with the rapidity of a collegiate social justice group demolishing a statue of a Confederate general on a university campus. However, Husebø should be credited for a solid compendium of how bad Fauci looks when it comes to his views on the disposability of religious services.
On Jan. 18 of this year, Business Insider reported, Fauci was asked during a virtual town hall, “When can we expect to go back to church, when we’ll be able to sing, we’ll be able to do wind instruments?”
That timeline, Fauci said, was dependent on when “the overwhelming proportion of our population” was vaccinated. That’s 70 to 85 percent, by Fauci’s reasoning — something that we’re not supposed to reach until the fall.
Yet, here he was last July during congressional hearings, admitting under questioning by GOP Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan that there was a bit of an inconsistency between what the government would allow in terms of religious services and what it would tolerate in terms of George Floyd-related protests:
Can’t go to church.
Can’t go to work.
Can’t go to school.
Even Dr. Fauci says protesting is dangerous.
But Democrats encourage people to riot and protest in the streets. pic.twitter.com/78Dyjkt6D6
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 31, 2020
“Crowding together, particularly when you’re not wearing a mask, contributes to the spread of the virus,” Fauci said.
“Should we limit the protesting?” Jordan asked.
“I’m not in a position to determine what the government can do in a forceful way,” Fauci responded.
Given that Fauci was considered something between a COVID guru and a czar, if he said it was time to shut these protests down, rest assured that moves would have been made. And even if they hadn’t been, there’s no doubt the protests would have been seen in a different light.
Granted, Fauci isn’t alone. In-person religious services have been seen as uniquely superfluous and expendable by the lockdown-happy, an odd choice considering it’s one of the few communal gatherings given expressed protection in the Constitution.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pursued the Orthodox Jewish community with a disconcerting zeal. In California, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom and his state government went a solid 0-5 in court cases brought by churches regarding the state’s draconian restrictions on religious services before it finally threw in the towel and removed restrictions on indoor capacity for religious services.
Other states and jurisdictions have found the First Amendment’s prohibition against “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion expendable and found courts similarly unmoved.
Fauci’s emails provide a window into how little our public officials think of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment or of the faithful, be they of any creed. Go on a cruise. Maybe go to a rally. Religious services? No.
He already knew about the Diamond Princess but was OK with cruises. For religious freedom, however, it was a different story.
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